The heart of the matter
Tessa Briggs, Managing Editor, is disappointed in readership numbers for Pobl Dewi
Due to Covid-19 and lockdowns, three out of the four last issues of Pobl Dewi (PD) have been online-only. Welcome to this edition, which is online-only again; we could not justify the costs of printing and distributing a small number of copies to those churches which are open and where printed copies would be welcome.
Although we printed copies in December 2020, I understand that there were a lot left over. Viewing statistics for the online editions are extremely poor (average March 2020 to date, 1,467 readers per issue), when you consider that we normally print 6,000-7,000 copies per edition and that some readers only ever access the online versions. Some of these low readership statistics will be due to lack of internet access but this does not explain everything.
The entire PD team (editors, proof readers, translators, typesetters) and the authors of articles put an enormous amount of time and effort into producing each issue and Bishop Joanna has referred to PD as being "the glue that holds the diocese together". However, I have received reports that some clergy/church leaders are simply not interested in letting their congregations know that PD is available. If they do not help promote PD, whether it is the printed version or the online-only version, then what of the future of PD?
Why, I also wonder, have so many LMA Deans responded saying they do not want printed copies? Some of this can be explained by the fact that attendance numbers at services are restricted and the Church in Wales’ guidance that paperwork should not be handed out. Regarding the former, would it not be appropriate for copies of PD to be put through letterboxes of those not attending services as a reminder that the Church is still there? Regarding the latter, I would suggest that PD does not need to be handled by anyone other than the person who is collecting it.
Church families are important in so many ways. We need to grieve over the past 15 months, give thanks for the love, care, support and kindness shown in our communities during the pandemic, encourage those who have dipped their toes in the water via streamed services, welcome back those who have been shielding or too frightened to go out and build a brighter future, together, in person, rather than through the impersonal lens of technology.